Jamie Carragher has outlined what Newcastle United can expect from Rafael Benitez by lifting the lid on the Spaniard’s Liverpool reign in his Daily Mail column.
Benitez, who of course managed the Reds between 2004 and 2010, was appointed as Newcastle boss last week to try to safe them from Premier League relegation.
Anfield legend Carragher was a cornerstone of Benitez’s Liverpool team, which he has described as robotically well-drilled, and a nightmare to play against.
And the ex-Liverpool defender, turned respected pundit, thinks that Benitez’s methods can be summed up with his favourite shout from his technical area – “compact”.
“Teams hated playing against us,” Carragher wrote in the Daily Mail. “The games would be horrible for the opposition because we would not give them any space to breathe.
“If you asked me to say the one word I heard most during training and games, it would be him shouting ‘compact’. After the first year of working with Rafa, we were like robots.
“By that I mean we knew exactly what he wanted us to do and when to do it. This came about through repetition on the training ground, the drills being done over and over again until he was satisfied.
“It demanded a high level of concentration and there was no laughing or joking.
“Newcastle’s players will have realised what is in store for them, given that he has cancelled all days off until the end of the season, whereas they could expect a midweek break under Steve McClaren.”
Benitez spent his six years at Liverpool chasing trophies – winning the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup the season after – but Newcastle represent a very different challenge.
Although the well-travelled tactician has little experience fighting the drop, Carragher’s revelations suggest that his approach could be well suited to a team in a relegation dogfight.
Benitez will hope to get Newcastle more organised and working as a unit, starting with tomorrow’s massive Tyne-Wear derby with Sunderland. Reds fans may be watching with interest.
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